TRULY ONE BIG FAMILY – After a dinner and presentation honoring longtime Soroptomist and teacher Dixie Otis, the family gathered for a group photo. Left to right: Pat Paul; Kevin Paul, Tribal Senator; Nancy Wood, Soroptomist Club president; Megan Masonholder (Dixie’s daughter); Brian Masonholder, son-in-law; Brian Cladoosby, Tribal Chairman; Nina, Brian’s wife; Kelli Otis, Dixie’s daughter-in-law; and Andy Otis, Dixie’s son. – Photo by Ken Stern
Dixie Otis’ death last December was a shock and a huge loss to the greater La Conner community. A charter member of the La Conner Soroptimist Club, and its co-president, Otis was an even longer term teacher, both in and out of the classroom. The Club, and the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, recognized Otis and her family last Wednesday at a dinner at the Swinomish Yacht Club. The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community honored Otis that evening by presenting $5,000 to the Club: “Dixie Louise Otis for her commitment to helping students of our community and those of the Swinomish Reservation.” In his remarks, Tribe Senate Chairman Brian Cladoosby said his Tribe was blessed that Otis “allowed us to share her life.” She was part of his family’s life as well, a close friend of his father, Mike. The two spoke almost daily on the phone. Kevin Paul, a member of the Tribal Senate, shared his history of being in Otis’ second grade class, recounting that she noted his cursive writing and “predicted my life, (telling me) you could be an artist.” He is now a noted wood carver. He also teaches a woodcarving class at La Conner high school. The Soroptimists, in turn, thanked the Tribe with a plaque that read “Soroptimist International of La Conner, Presented to the Swinomish Tribal Community, With Gratitude for your Donation in Honor of Dixie Louise Otis, May 8, 2019. Thank you.” The club has created an educational scholarship in Otis’ name. Karen Quesnell presented the Otis family with the Soroptimist Laurel Society Award, which recognizes Dixie posthumously for her major contributions to various Soroptomist programs. Quesnell called Otis a pillar of their Club, saying “We will always remember her humor, her willingness to help others, her knowledge of ‘everything La Conner’ and the love and support she showed each and every one of us.” After her remarks, Paul stood and said he wanted to share a blessing. He and Cladoosby then sang a Tribal blessing song.